Change for Adolescents: The role of youth and the importance to invest in early years.
One of the goals that the IFMSA delegation present in this year’s UNGA set out to accomplish was to increase and enhance the visibility of IFMSA as a relevant stakeholder in the Adolescent Health Agenda as well as to push for better youth participation at all levels.
On the 18th of September, and after attending the “Independent Accountability 2017 Report” launch event, we moved to the Every Woman Every Child Hub to participate in a PMNCH and Women Deliver hosted event. The event focused on showcasing the role that youth-led organisations play in adolescent health and well being, by responding to the challenges by mobilising, advocating and building partnerships between stakeholders across health and other sectors. The event also aimed at emphasising the importance of country-based leadership and the role of the community (especially youth) in showcasing best practices, lessons learnt and tools developed by young leaders from all around the world. IFMSA also delivered an intervention on the importance of investing in youth while remarking on the imperative need to support and work with young people and adolescents both on a policy and programmatic level in order to tackle the underlying causes that limit our empowerment and engagement. We finished our speech by urging all relevant agents to avoid practices such as tokenism and scripted speeches and start investing in more meaningful ways of youth participation. Youth mobilisation at all levels is essential to realise the SDGs and to influence governments and other stakeholders to be accountable and deliver on their promises, policies and programs.
Through the next couple of days, the Federation has also taken part in different side events related to Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, hosting a youth corner on the importance of engaging future health professionals in the quest for safe abortion and being present in the Plan International UK, which explored how gender norms and sexual violence affect girls and communities gradually as girls grow older. In all the spaces we have been present, we have advocated under the same premise: Youth and adolescents are uniquely positioned to be effective advocates, not only for adolescent health but also on any matters concerning their communities and future. Now more than ever they should be able to access the support and the resources to take action and create a positive impact in their societies.
Stay tuned for more updates and a final blog entry on our active role in this year’s United Nations General Assembly.